We are what we eat. We have a choice. We can eat a diet rich in nutrients that prevent cancer and disease, or we can gorge on foods that promote cancer and disease. It may surprise you that the top ten cancer-fighting foods all come from plants—the foods God created for us to eat.
God tells us in Genesis 1:29 (NIV), “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” Yet, the average American eats only a few plants each day. We fill our tummies with foods high in calories and low in nutrients, instead of low in calories and high in nutrients.
Is it any wonder that half of American adults have one or more chronic diseases, and cancer rates are one in two men and one in three women? Many diseases and cancers are related to poor eating habits such as eating foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, high in saturated fats, high in additives and preservatives, yet low in these God-given plants. If you need help to get off the sugar, read How to Eat a Low-Sugar Diet.
All plants contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, and both play a role in disease and cancer prevention. An antioxidant is a chemical compound that protects cells against the effects of free radicals and inhibits oxidation. The more our exposure to toxins increases, the more antioxidants we need.
Phytochemicals are bioactive plant chemicals that occur naturally in plants. Scientists estimate there are almost 5000 phytochemicals or plant chemicals found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, spices, herbs, and legumes. The most common ones are carotenoids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, resveratrol, flavanols, sulfides, sulforaphane, quercetin, terpenes, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The deeper the color in the plant, the higher the chemical content.
Let’s look at the plant foods that have the greatest potential to reduce our risk of cancer.
The family of cruciferous vegetables includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. These vegetables contain powerful nutrients including indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which have been proven to block the growth of cancer cells and even kill them. The America Cancer Society began recommending cruciferous vegetables to decrease cancer risk back in 1984. I wish I had known this sooner!
Although this is a cruciferous vegetable, it deserves to stand on its own. Why? Because just a small clump of these sprouts has the same impact as a bowl of broccoli. This is why I throw them in my daily smoothie. A little gives a powerful punch in preventing cancer as indicated by this WebMD.com article.
These tasty vegetables can be easily grown in your own garden and contain lycopene, which is a known cancer fighter for prostate cancer. Tomatoes are also a superb source of vitamins A, C, and E which are all enemies of cancer-friendly free radicals.
This inexpensive tea is rich in polyphenols, which are natural compounds with high health benefits such as reducing inflammation and helping fight cancer. Green tea also contains a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Catechins are natural antioxidants that prevent cell damage and induce apoptosis or programmed cell death. A hallmark of cancer is the ability of malignant cells to evade apoptosis.
Berries and Grapes
These delicacies of nature not only taste good, but according to Harvard medical doctor, Dr. William Li, they also can also inhibit angiogenesis, the formation of blood supply to tumors. A tumor cannot grow without a blood supply, so anything that inhibits this prevents cancer and tumor growth. Dr. Li’s research indicates that blueberries, red grapes, and teas have almost the same effect as Avastin, a cancer drug.
Research by the National Cancer Institute and several other respected organizations support claims that consuming garlic strengthens protection against some types of cancer, including stomach, esophagus, pancreas, colon, and breast.
Allium vegetables and their components have effects at each stage of carcinogenesis and affect many biological processes that modify cancer risk. Red onions have the most cancer-fighting power because they contain several anti-cancer compounds including quercetin and anthocyanins.
Researchers are very interested in curcumin, one component of turmeric. The compound has prevented or slowed the growth of cancer in lab animals. Turmeric is also rich in antioxidants that can help impede the development of tumors by protecting cells against damage from free radicals.
American researchers discovered that this vegetable contains high quantities of chlorophyllin, the chemical that gives spinach its distinctive, dark green color and may help reduce the risk of liver cancer. Spinach is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that remove unstable molecules called free radicals from your body before they damage it. These carotenoids can protect against cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Some studies suggest the carotenoids in spinach and other foods reduce the risk of ovarian, endometrial, lung, and colorectal cancer, too.
Freshly ground flaxseeds are a powerful way to prevent breast cancer. They contain phytoestrogens which in limited amounts attach to estrogen receptors, preventing stronger, more stimulating estrogens from being able to attach. An average of two tablespoons daily is a safe amount even for those with estrogen-positive cancers.
As a cancer survivor, I now eat two servings of cruciferous vegetables, one serving of broccoli sprouts, one cup of berries, and two tablespoons of flax seeds in my daily smoothie. By doing this, I’m helping to prevent a recurrence.
It’s recommended that we eat at least ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily because these plants build the immune system and prevent cancer. But nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices also contain immune building and cancer-fighting chemicals. These top ten plants can significantly reduce your risk of cancer and many diseases. God has given us these plants for our healing and disease prevention. The research is clear. The more plants we eat—the better. What we eat matters! If you need help making a lifestyle change, read the article, How to Make a Healthy Lifestyle Change.
Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Her recent book, Unleash Your God-given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer, won a Golden Scrolls Award and was written with commentary by an oncologist after her cancer journey. Ginny has been interviewed nationwide about this book including the CBN 700 Club, Charisma podcast, American Family Radio, and Homekeepers on CTN. You can receive a cancer prevention log and more information at www.ginnybrant.com.